by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG – AN international cyber-security specialist has warned South African stakeholders to step up their efforts to mitigate risk posed by online attacks, sabotage and espionage impacting industrial and mining facilities.
GECI has issued the warning as it launches its portfolio of cyber-security solutions in South Africa.
South Africa is the company’s first base in the continent.
Mike Bergen, GECI representative in South Africa, said attacks had escalated beyond theft of data and ransomware attacks, to attacks specifically designed to shut down critical infrastructure, manipulate markets and even cripple entire countries.
Citing attacks on major enterprises, power plants and nuclear facilities, Bergen said the increasing connectedness of industrial plants is putting them at greater risk of attack.
He said with cyber-security a focus in the enterprise’s administration and data centres and little focus on cyber-security in plant operations.
Yet, not all Operational Technology (OT) specialists were as aware as Information Technology (IT) professionals of the importance of cyber-security.
“Cyber-war and cyber crime could happen to anyone. It’s a pandemic,” Bergen said.
GECI has provided global solutions to manufacturers and consumers in the fields of aerospace, transportation, energy, petrochemicals, infrastructure, IT and telecommunications for over 40 years.
Thuli Mgwebile, business development agent at GECI South Africa and Managing Director of local GECI partner, Sinac Group, said early discussions with local infrastructure stakeholders indicated their focus on cyber-security was inadequate.
“For example, we see local industrial players saying their own risk assessment exercises have found a huge amount of data leakage taking place,” she said.
This, coupled with inadequate access controls at plants, presents significant vulnerabilities which could be misused to devastating effect.
Mgwebile said in many industrial environments, IT and operations are still run in siloes.
“Industrial facilities have done a lot to protect themselves from catastrophes, but not enough to protect themselves from cyber attacks,” she concluded.
– CAJ News